Switching business to online, or 2021 e-Commerce in a nutshell
04 May 2021
Switching business to online, or 2021 e-Commerce in a nutshell
The COVID-19 pandemic boosted the growth of the e-Commerce market worldwide significantly. During the months of self-isolation, hundreds of millions of customers worldwide turned to online shopping both for re-stocking their groceries and for purchasing everything from clothing to cars online. Continuous lockdowns, curfews, and other quarantine measures worldwide boost the e-Commerce popularity even further.
Naturally, such a big shift could not go unnoticed by the industry, nor could it be left unaffected by it. Let’s take a closer look at how retail switched to serving customers online in 2020 and what are the e-Commerce trends for 2021.
What to keep an eye on when switching retail to online?
There are several reasons why the transition to e-Commerce can be the most important business decision your business can make today:
Remote is the new normal in retail. Hundreds of millions of people will continue to shop online even after the limitations will be lifted. Gaining such customers now allows maximizing their LTW and build a stable revenue stream for your business.
Work from home boosts online shopping. As huge strata of the population now work from their homes, they no longer need to live in megapolises and shop there. Many millions have relocated to small towns where brands don’t have a brick-and-mortar presence, so e-Commerce remains the main channel of reaching out to them and offering your goods.
Post-COVID recovery means more isolation. Millions of people that fought the coronavirus and won still have some medical conditions that force them to mostly stay at home. They still need the goods you sell, they just want to select them online and get them shipped to their doorstep.
Thus, 2021 can be the best time for building an e-Commerce solution for your retail company. Let’s now list the 10 top trends in e-Commerce to help you choose the best features for your needs:
- Direct-to-customer (DTC) replaces B2b and B2C.
- Customer Data Platforms or CDP replace CRMs.
- Many companies go fully online and abandon brick-and-mortar for good.
- Some outlets now provide live video consultations.
- One-click payments via a dedicated link.
- AR-technologies for trying on shoewear and clothing.
- AI-powered bots for customer service, telemarketing, and cross-sales.
- Smart assistants for buying online using voice commands.
- Same-day delivery or delivery time slot selection.
- Subscription purchases are growing in popularity.
Let’s take a closer look at what these trends bring to the table.
DTC to replace B2B and B2C
Big brands now have enough data management capabilities to be able to directly engage with every single customer and build highly personalized “market segments of one”. This allows omitting all the interim supply chain actors and delivering the goods directly from the brand to the customer reduces the expenses significantly.
Huge brands like Nike abandon marketplaces like eBay or Amazon and concentrate on selling through their corporate websites to centralize customer data management. This way, they are able to control all the communication channels and increase the efficiency of their marketing.
CDPs replace CRMs
As a direct consequence of the previous point, CRMs do not suffice as central customer data management tools anymore. They are being replaced with Customer Data Platforms or CDPs, allowing to aggregate data from a variety of sources across multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey. This provides valuable insights into the customer’s personal and aggregated shopping behavior, allowing you to adjust marketing activities to maximize their impact.
Online retail abandons brick-and-mortar shops
You still have to pay the rent for a closed shop and many brands abandon their brick-and-mortar points of presence for good in favor of online sales. It is much easier to send an item of merchandise to a small city using a delivery service than maintain a physical presence there.
Video consultations to boost conversion rates
On the other hand, customers prefer trying the things on before purchasing. The fear of buying a thing that will not fit hinders the growth of online retail. Thus, some brands started offering video consultations, turning their closed shops into virtual showrooms.
If a customer wants to see how an item looks in real life, he can use a live video streaming service button in the item description card in the e-Commerce shop. Clicking this button will create a video chat with a store that has this item in stock, so the consultants will try it on in real-time, and answer any questions a customer might have. This helps boost conversion rates up to 30%
One-click purchases are now a thing
If you run an ecosystem where a customer registers an account and adds his banking card details once, you can enable 1-click buying to provide a seamless shopping experience. Whenever a customer is in doubt after having a consultation with your representative, such a system allows creating a dedicated purchase link. This link will allow the customer to buy the item with a single click, without having to re-enter the card details and confirm the purchase with the bank.
AR technologies to augment the purchasing process
While seeing how an item of shoewear or clothing looks on someone is better than looking at the photos, many people want to try the apparel on before buying it. AR technologies allow doing this, effectively allowing the online shop visitor to try on various items just like he/she would have done in a brick-and-mortar shop.
However, implementing such AR features can be quite costly for a small-to-medium business. There is an alternative though, as one can create a QR-code that would launch a 3D model simulation of the item after scanning.
AI-powered bots to reduce the costs of call-centers
People are now used to self-service and using smart chatbots to deal with their personal banking and other needs. Implementing this approach in online retail allows cutting the call-center expenses by half or even three times. AI-powered chatbots can perform telemarketing and cross-sales tasks, and should the dialog surpass the bot’s capabilities, it can be transferred to a live person. At the same time, every such situation is used for training the AI algorithm, so it becomes better over time.
Smart assistants enable buying online using voice commands
Ordering a slice of pizza using Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or Amazon Echo is old news. However, what if we told you Amazon made 41% of sales in 2020 via voice commands? People are lazy and they prefer speaking, not reading and clicking the buttons, so this trend will definitely continue to grow in popularity.
Same day delivery or time slot selection
While many people are at home all day long now, they value the ability to order delivery at a convenient time slot very much. As a matter of fact, 48% of leads will abandon the cart if there is no 1-day delivery options or no chance to select a fitting time slot. Below we illustrate the importance of various delivery aspects in ensuring a positive customer experience, based on customer feedback gathered by one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in the EU.
Subscription purchases are gaining traction
Months of self-isolation lead to developing a certain pattern of purchases. What started in healthcare and pharmacy as auto-refill of prescribed medications over certain intervals now gains popularity in grocery, toddler care, hygienic consumables for women, and other online retail niches. Being sure you have enough of everything you need provides peace of mind many customers value a lot.
NB! As an honorable mention, we should cover the trend of using Blockchain and NFT for securely purchasing valuable goods like art masterpieces online. While such offers are yet rare, the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and solutions based on them will definitely create some interesting use cases in combination with the online retail ecosystem.
The e-Commerce industry is on a steady rise. While the anti-COVID vaccination is already underway, the time to fully remove all the quarantine measures is quite far from us yet. This means that people will rely on online retail for much longer to make purchases, and many millions of customers will never ever set foot in a brick-and-mortar store again.
Thus, 2021 is a great time to develop a custom e-Commerce solution, implement some of the most popular trends, and conquer your market segment. To do that you will need a reliable technology partner, sure — and this is where Spintech can come to your aid. We have ample e-Commerce software development expertise and can lend it to help make your project a success!